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Workers celebrate job threat lifted

PUBLISHED: 08:09 14 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:28 03 March 2010

WORKERS at a world-renowned Ipswich engineering firm are celebrating today after a threat to more than 200 jobs was lifted.

Employees at Ipswich-based Textron Golf, Turf & Speciality Products - which includes the former Ransomes business - were warned last month a review was under way of the future viability of the manufacturing operation.

WORKERS at a world-renowned Ipswich engineering firm are celebrating today after a threat to more than 200 jobs was lifted.

Employees at Ipswich-based Textron Golf, Turf & Speciality Products – which includes the former Ransomes business – were warned last month a review was under way of the future viability of the manufacturing operation.

But yesterday, a day after returning to work from the plant's annual summer holiday shut-down, staff were told the company's American owners had cleared the manufacturing operation to continue at the site.

Senior managers at Textron in Ipswich, led by managing director, Steve Chicken, worked on through the shut-down to compile a report to the top executives of parent company Textron Inc, based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The report, endorsed by the American bosses over the weekend, concluded the Ipswich plant could have a financially sound future "by adopting contemporary world-class automotive practices".

Mr Chicken said that meant the firm getting closer to its suppliers and adopting "just in time" manufacturing techniques along the lines of those used successfully by Japanese car makers.

There would also be some out-sourcing of the more complex, low-volume products in the company's range, but it was still hoped to

retain the current workforce in full.

It was also possible some of the out-sourced work could go to companies in the Ipswich area, although options in eastern Europe were also being examined.

Mr Chicken said the announcement of the report's acceptance by the group had been unanimously welcomed by the entire workforce and enthusiastically embraced by trade union representatives and community leaders.

"Everybody is over the moon. We have got to do some big changes certainly, but I am up for it, the people are up for it and the unions are up for it," he added.

Jo Barber, 50, PA to the operations director, returned from her holiday to find she might not lose her job after all.

She said: "It is brilliant news and a great relief. It is a big worry thinking you won't have a job at the end of the year."

Ipswich-based Ransomes plc was acquired by Textron Inc in 1998 and merged with the U.S. group's existing turf care and speciality products operation, Jacobsen.

Golf products were added to the range in 2000 when two other Textron businesses, E-Z-Go and Steiner-Brouwer, were merged into the operation.

Including temporary workers, Textron Golf, Turf & Speciality Products currently employs 375 people at the Ipswich site, in Central Avenue on the Ransomes Europark.

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